Putting the Freeze on Cryogenic Liquid Transfer Costs

As appeared in Food Manufacturing magazine May 2004 issue.

Photo of VJP on rooftopWhen Schneider Foods set up a new chicken parts freezing line in its plant in Mississauga, Ontario in December 2002, the decision was made to install vacuum jacketed piping (VJP) to transfer liquid nitrogen to the freezing operation.  Initial cost of the system was significantly more than for a more common foam-insulated copper piping system, but minimizing liquid nitrogen losses with the more effective, longer lasting VJP insulation was expected to save Schneider money in the long run.

According to the system’s manufacturer, Technifab Products, Inc., those savings typically continue for at least ten years, whereas costs of operating with a foam-insulated system begin to escalate significantly after the first few years.  Deteriorating foam insulation systems can cause food to freeze less quickly, thus compromising the quality of the product.

“We are very happy with the system’s performance thus far,” states Ken Hergott, Project Manager for Schneider Foods.  “Since this is not a replacement of an earlier line, we have no direct comparison of current operating costs versus those of an earlier coolant transfer system.  But we have seen the Technifab VJP system work efficiently and reliably since the day it was installed.”

The new transfer system was custom-fabricated by Technifab, of Brazil, Indiana and installed by Eamatech Canada, Inc.  It was shipped in sections to Mississauga and installed over a weekend, ready to begin operation on Monday morning.

The VJP advantage

Cost is the primary driver of vacuum jacketed piping purchases.  While purchase costs can be higher than that of non-vacuum systems, VJP systems tend to yield lower operating costs over time.  Quick payback of the purchaser’s original investment is usually a strong selling point.

Technifab’s static vacuum piping systems, like the installation at Schneider Foods, are designed to perform for extended periods of time without degradation of vacuum performance or upkeep maintenance, and are warranted for ten years.

The project

The Schneider project began with Frank Florindo, Director of Eamatech Canada Inc.  Eamatech had done a number of projects for Schneider, and was contracted to do the transfer line for the Mississauga plant.  One feature of the project was a long piping run (280 feet or so) from the external LN2 bulk storage tank to the freezing line.  Part of the run was across the building’s roof, where it would be exposed to the weather and to temperature variations.

Florindo had recently read information on the internet about the Technifab system, and recognized how effective it would be in controlling LN2 loss over this long, exposed piping run.  He contacted Technifab, which in turn presented technical and financial data to Schneider that led to it approving the installation.

Eamatech specialists developed drawings of the proposed line, and sent them to Technifab, which made shop drawings to move the project to the next step.

“This stage was critical,” points out Florindo. “The sections of pipe would be fabricated at Technifab and sent to us.  They would have to be accurate in length.”

The sections were numbered for correct installation, and Florindo comments that it was like assembling a Lego™ toy.

“The accuracy of the section sizes, the simplicity of the bayonet connecting system and the advanced planning all came to together to make this a simple installation,” he says.  “We were able to install the entire 280-foot line in a day and a half.”

In operation

The line has operated without significant problem ever since.  Early on, a frost ball developed on one of the rooftop sections as a result of a minor leak.  Because vacuum jacketed piping does not have foam insulation over the pipe, the frost ball was immediately visible to plant technicians.  A replacement section was fabricated and sent out from Technifab, and inserted into the line by Eamatech.

“Once again,” Florindo comments, “the accuracy of the measurements and the simple connector configuration let us pull out the leaking pipe and insert the replacement within hours, with absolutely no disruption of Schneider’s production schedule.”

“The repair was handled very professionally,” Ken Hergott states, “with no interruption of production.  That is another reason we are happy with Technifab’s line.”

Following the success of this project, Eamatech is proposing Technifab systems to several other potential customers, and Schneider is weighing similar installations at other facilities.

Copyright 2004, Reed Business Information, all rights reserved.

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